18th-C Sun Ordinary Time
Ecc 1:2; 2:21-23; Ps 90:3-17; Col 3:1-5, 9-11; Lk 12:13-21
The Psalmist says, “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” The Scriptures prompt us with a very important question today: What’s it all about, this thing we call life? Well, the answer is pretty simple; yet it can be rather complicated. It’s quite beautiful; yet there are times when it can get a little ugly. It’s very short; yet, there are occasions when we might feel that we’ve had just about enough! Today we see three views of life. We’ll call them the “Was,” the “Is,” and the “Will Be” views.
The “Was” view, we heard expressed in the Wisdom reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes. It says: “OK, I’ve been there, done that, and seen it all, and none of it really makes me feel any better.” It’s all vanity, useless and purposeless. Yes, life can be pretty unfair.
We call this the “Was” viewpoint of life, because sometimes when we look back on our lives, maybe all we remember were the rough times. Maybe we missed the breathtaking sunsets and sunrises. Maybe we missed the incredible miracle of birth, or the beautiful smile on that baby’s face. Maybe we missed seeing how the ingenuity and creativity of mankind has been used to IMPROVE our world. Maybe our lives were just a little too focused on the “Me,” and not on the “Us,” on the negatives and not the positives, on the suffering and not the resurrection. And somewhere in the middle of it all, we lost love, we lost God.
If we’re living in the “Was” viewpoint of life, maybe it’s time we change channels, or pick up a better book. There truly is more to life than “Was.” If today His voice is speaking to us, Lord, please help open our hearts.
Next, we hear the “Is” view of life in St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians. This “Is” view says: “OK, now that we’ve been baptized in Christ, we’ve made a promise that there are a few things we can do in order to keep those “white baptismal garments of our souls” clean and pure.
First, we carefully screen every word that comes out of our mouths. This, we’ll find, eventually works its way into our deepest thought processes and then down into our hearts. Next, we carefully screen what goes into our eyes and ears; from the shows and magazines we choose to look at, to the music we listen to and the games we play. And we ask ourselves, “Do these things lift-up or tear-down life?” For you see, God created life to be precious and respected.
If we’re living in this post-baptismal, “Is” view of life, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we’ll find that life’s ups and downs can actually be managed much more smoothly. Yes, there will still be highs and lows, births and deaths, graduations and new starts, but we’ll find that if we’re living with Christ in our hearts, we will truly experience a “peace that is beyond understanding.” If today we hear His voice, Lord grant our hearts your peace.
And then there’s the “Will Be” view of life. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is asked to arbitrate one of those silly family squabbles. He clearly understands the source of the dispute, and gently crushes it without pointing any fingers. You see, the short-term “cause”, the “sin,” if you will, was GREED. We see it all the time between: brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, political parties, governments, societies and even religions. And the longer-term “effects” of that cause, greed, are things like: family feuds, instead of caring relationships; marital divorce, instead of mutual complementarity; political rivalries, instead of cooperation; government oppression, instead of humanitarian service; and war, instead of peace. And all of this, stemming from greed, results in death instead of life.
The “Will Be” view of life prompts us with the question, “What is the point?” If we’re living for this utopian dream of retirement, we just might be surprised when the kid’s college costs eat it all up, if there’s anything left after all of our economic crashes, anyway. Or we might come down with some rare disease, or die in an accident, or who knows what else. And when the time to retire finally does come, if we’re still around, we might just find ourselves sitting on that old rocker, outside our RV-home, pickin’ nits and spittin’ chew in our bare-feet, because we can’t afford socks.
Jesus gently warns His followers that wealth and laziness should not be the goals of life, when they can only be achieved by greed. If instead, we come to the realization that our goal is “ETERNAL life with God,” then mortal death loses any sadness it may have held, because we know that eternal life with God “Will Be” much, much better than even the best “feeling” we can imagine here. And in order to gain eternal life, instead of saving through greed, we save by giving. And the more we give of ourselves, the closer we come to our goal. And the closer we come to our goal, the more we realize that our God has provided every material and spiritual need we could ever possibly have, and more! THIS is what it’s all about, this thing we call life. So, if today we hear His voice, Lord let it be for Eternity! Amen!